One of the standard steps in producing a scientifically verifiable research study is to conduct a review of the existing literature.  However, as we debated in the first Discussion, authority and documentation are sources of knowledge that may have their weaknesses.  Written treatises are not infallible and may lack the empiricism and objectivity of the scientific method.  Even if they are based on observable evidence and follow the scientific method, part of the literature review process is to critique the studies and potentially find flaws or gaps that were not addressed.  So, why do we do this in the first place?

1) Describe the multitude of reasons we conduct a literature review, from determining what was already discovered; to developing a theoretical framework; to finding flaw in the instrumentation, validity, reliability, and analysis and interpretation of data; and finding gaps  in the literature.  How does this position us as researchers to conducting a comprehensive inquiry?  What benefit does it provide to discuss why we expect either similar or different results to the existing study?

2) What about sampling?  What are the pros and cons of conducting a census to generate parameters about your population?  What are the pros and cons of pulling a sample from the population to generate statistics?

3) What would you consider an adequate sample size and sampling technique if you were conducting a nationwide poll on perceptions of Sociology degree holders?  What would an adequate sample size and sampling technique if you wanted to find out why Sociology programs include research methods courses?  Who would you talk to to get that data?